Since each individual college visit costs so much time and money, visiting a big college fair is a great way to get a little face-to-face information. Today my family went to a fair with 170+ colleges represented, though, and with two students there was no way to talk with representatives from all we wanted. I realized, though, that my kids were spending a lot of their time filling out send-me-more-info forms, which reduced the time they had for asking questions and getting a feel for each school.
Since we were already there, I told them to flip each card over. If it was a business-reply postcard, they should take it to fill out at home and mail later. That helped tremendously, but it wasn't the best option if we'd planned ahead.
Even better would have been if I'd thought ahead to print out their information on sticky address labels, and let each kid bring a few sheets of them. The label could have gone on the card and been turned in immediately, with no time lost.
Here's what I'd have put on the labels: Name, e-mail address, mailing address, telephone (if they want that used), high school name and address, graduation year, what major(s) they're most interested in pursuing, and what sport or important activity is really essential to them (if any). That's pretty much what was on every card.
Printing the sticky label sheets would cost a bit of money, but if it reduced the number of college visits by even one school, it would save quite a bit. Maximizing the kids' time at the college fair, so they spend more time learning about different schools' settings and offerings - instead of rewriting their names and addresses - would definitely help do that.
Source: Musing today at a crowded college fair.
By Sterghe from Pennsylvania
I work in an Admissions office at a music conservatory and I would agree with all the tips in your post.
I would add that your child (as a sophomore or junior in high school) should start looking at college websites and making a list of all the schools they are interested in. Visiting a college fair and talking with the counselors there with questions they have AFTER reading the website is a great second step. Then, if it is financially possible, try to visit the top 5 schools and get a feel for the environment of the school. Most kids will have a very definite idea about a school from the visit.
By their senior year, they should have their list of where they will apply and have them keep track of all the deadlines.
My daughter applied for schools this year and the only 2 deadlines we missed were the ones that I needed to make. She did a great job keeping up with her applications!
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